A smart meter in every home: Government plans to shave our utility bills

The government is proposing to add Internet-connected smart utility meters to homes across Britain, ending the tyranny of the estimated bill

We've all been there: you open an estimated utility bill and are hit square in the eye by a number that bears so little relation to reality you wonder if the billing department is run by L. Ron Hubbard. Government proposals to fit smart meters in homes across Britain should put paid to that sort of shock.

The smart meters will beam information back to utility suppliers to remotely record gas and electricity usage, and bill accordingly for the precise amount used. The BBC reports that 26 million electricity meters and 22 million gas meters could be fitted, adding up to a whopping cost of £7bn -- that's around £15 per household over the next decade. Suppliers will save £10 of that, and we're projected to save 2-3 per cent off our energy bills too.

An offshoot of this is that if, as the government believes, we all shave 2 per cent off our energy use, our CO2 emissions will drop by 2.6 million tonnes. That's a lot of c-double-oxide.

It's argued that the readers will spell the end of meter-reader visits, estimated bills and complaints or correspondence related to discrepancies with the real totals. More accurate readings can only be good for us as consumers, as well as giving us more of an understanding of the power we're using -- or wasting, as the case may be. In our gadget-packed homes, stuffed to bursting with more chargers than food and a veritable Jean-Michel Jarre lightshow of standby LEDs by night, that can only be a good thing. Plus, we're on board with putting the Internet in anything.

Blimey. A digital telly in every home, a black man in the White House and a smart energy meter on every wall. It's like living in The Jetsons. The government is launching a three-month consultation process, based on trials of smart meters already in people's homes. If you have a smart meter, let us know in the comments or give us your two-penn'orth on why they're a good idea or a terrible one.

Image: hugovk

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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